This week’s employee highlight for MIL’s celebration of Black History month is Sonya Holland. Ms. Holland is a Senior Assistant Vice President for MIL and the Deputy Project Manager and Level II Help Desk Manager for our FAA customer.
While originally from Hampton, VA, Sonya’s family moved to Frankfurt, Germany when she was still in school and she realized her love with living and traveling abroad. Sonya credits that early exposure to different cultures and languages with her ability to recognize opportunities for growth and how being exposed to new experiences helped her challenge herself to evolve. After graduating with a Bachelors from Old Dominion University, she worked as a branch manager for a home savings and loan business. From there she transitioned to the VA State Tax department and although she enjoyed the work of processing taxes, one day she saw an individual’s W-2 where the person had to “draw” an additional box next to the income space because the salary was so high. She instantly wanted to know what this person did for a living knowing that would be her next transition in life.
Virginia happened to be offering “early out” programs for government employees which paid a separation bonus. Sonya took the money from that bonus to return to Old Dominion and earn an MBA. After graduation, she went to interview with Coopers & Lybrand and when the interviewer spoke to her in German, she answered in German and was hired on the spot! In this role, she supported the Department of the Navy as a Developer and eventually a team leader as a technical functional liaison. She served as a database administrator and programmer working with NASA while “TDY” in Huntsville, AL.
Sonya moved from what was now PWC to a position which allowed her to learn and use Oracle financial software in the U.S. Department of Education. As a Product Manager in application development, her technical team would provide solutions to customer issues and Sonya was responsible for testing the solution. She recognizes her previous experience is what opened the door to her role at MIL, where she has been for nearly 17 years. With the Oracle experience, Sonya was approached by consider MIL as a new work home and decided to take the risk. She has not looked back since!
Sonya credits her success to all of the incredible people who took the time to teach her the finer nuances to both the technical aspects of her work as well as the underlying business sides as she grew into leadership roles. She states how strong mentors were instrumental in keeping her motivated to seek new challenges and accept new roles. Sonya also credits her optimism as a factor in her success and wants to be a positive role model and mentor for the next generation coming into the business world.
While Sonya recognizes that social injustice and inequality in America is still an issue for our society, she believes we are all capable of finding our commonality and humanity to come closer together. She recalls how in the months after 9/11 how the entire country came together and used kindness and a sense of shared purpose to communicate and exist with each other. Sonya believes we CAN get to that place again, that it exists naturally within us all, without having to have a national emergency or disaster to bring out that side of us all. She hopes to continue serving others whether it be on her team, mentoring others, or volunteering on the AGA committee. Her goals for the next 5-10 years are to be promoted to an MIL Vice President and participate in business development opportunities.